What to do when it rains in Cornwall?!

Rainbow over gateYou’ve booked a week off, you’ve been looking forward to it for ages, the kids are excited,  the weather is sunny and you are making great time down the M5 but wait, what’s that ahead of you? Is it seven days of sea, sand and sunshine or is it a dirty big cloud looming over the Devon Cornwall border? Honestly, I don’t know why people don’t just stop in Devon, it’s closer, it’s larger, it’s oh who am I kidding, it’s NOT Cornwall.  Anyway, you drive on, confident that one cloud can’t cover a whole county for a whole entire week.

Welcome to Cornwall.  Or  Kernow a’gas dynergh which means It always rains here.¹

But a week of rain doesn’t have to mean the end of the world.  Especially if you plan ahead.

Step One.  Don’t camp.

Only camp if a) you are a seasoned camper or b) it won’t kill you if you have to pack up and go home early. Otherwise, don’t do it. Camping is for a rare breed of people, let’s call them sadists or psychopaths.  I will hold my hand up here any declare extreme bias.²

Step Two. Pack for winter and you’ll be fine.

I mean, by all means, pack for summer as well but there is nothing more miserable than shivering around Trago in your Hawaiian short sleeve top and your cargo shorts or pulling on damp trousers in the morning. Also, pack your wellies. It is a fact that every single person in Cornwall owns a pair of wellies,³  in fact after our flip flops its the second most popular footwear of choice. Because of course when it isn’t raining it’s glorious here. That’s why you are unloading your car, in a downpour.

Step Three. You are here.

You are not under canvas and you have proper clothing and footwear.  Honestly, that’s most of the problem fixed, because you are here, in the best place in Britain and you are properly prepared.

What next?

There are lots of things to do in the rain but of the very many things to do, visiting Eden must not be one of them. Really. Spare yourself.  Eden is lovely. Less so when it is rammed full of fed up, wet, steaming holidaymakers and children voicing their opinions at the top of their lungs. Really, you may as well be camping. Similarly, people seem to flock to large supermarkets, Cornish Market World and Trago. Again, do not do this to yourself. It’s very hard to understand why people come on holiday to stand with their entire family looking at the shelves in Asda in wonderment.  But then I don’t understand camping either.

Oh and try to avoid going very far in your car. Everyone gets in their car and the roads grind to an absolute halt. Don’t believe me? Try it.

So what type of rain is it?

Wet and still or wet and windy.(4)

Wet and still is excellent.  Well, it’s not but we can work with it.

You are going to get wet so go and get wetter. Go to the beach and learn to surf.  Go to a harbour and book yourself onto a sea life safari boat trip. Head to one of the large rivers and hire a kayak and explore the estuaries. Go swimming.  Bude and Penzance have two of the very finest outdoor swimming pools in the country.

Happy, muddy boys
Honestly, if you don’t have this much mud on your face at the end of the day, then you are just not trying hard enough.

Explore a part of Cornwall you have never heard of. Head up on to the moors, there are lots of great walks up there with some really fabulous pubs as well.

Mooch about a village, leave your car at the outskirts carpark. (5)

Go and find a field and slide around in the grass, go find some puddles and splash around.  Find a cycle path and see who can make the biggest bow wave.  You are going to get wet so why not remember how much fun it was when you were eight.

Being cold and wet is only fun for a while. If you are out for the day, pack a change of clothes and stop somewhere for hot food.

Wet and Windy. Ah, the dramatic option.

A fine choice but it does hamper your options a bit.  Grab a camera, find somewhere safe and go watch the waves crashing in.   Can’t stress the “safe” bit enough. A harbour wall is NOT safe nor is anywhere near the waves.(6)

Wet and windy doesn’t tend to last all day which means you can at least stay dry.

If the weather is really beastly then just hunker down. Pull out a jigsaw puzzle, play snap for shots, read a book, put on a box set, make soup.

Insiders Tips
Cornwall is a peninsula, the weather often splits along the spine that runs down the centre of Cornwall. Many times if it is gloomy on the south coast then it’s sunny on the north coast and vice versa.

The rain never lasts everywhere. Sitting indoors waiting for it to pass won’t work. Just head out when you are ready and make the most of whatever the day turns out to be.


Have fun and welcome 🙂


  1. No it doesn’t. It means Welcome to Cornwall
  2. I once went on a touring camping holiday with my boyfriend in Scotland. It didn’t rain but the cold at night was abysmal and I wasn’t able to sleep properly. By day five we set up in the field of a B&B. After a massive row where it was explained to me that I was wasting money and failing to understand the fun of camping I headed off to the b&b and asked if I could book a bedroom. I slept and after sleeping I woke up warm, happy and single. The drive home was excruciating.(7)
  3. It is not a fact.
  4. There are so many more definitions of rain but we’ll just stick to these two large groups.
  5. Outskirts. Yeah right, outskirts summon up images of park and rides and depressing rows of charity shops and fried chicken takeaways. Our outskirts are normally a field with a portacabin manned by a bored teenager.
  6.  Please don’t be that tragic statistic.
  7.  I have camped since.  It has always been memorable.


All posts are written by Liz Hurley, author of SCRIBBLES FROM THE EDGE and LOSING IT IN CORNWALL These two books are collections of her columns, written for the Cornish Guardian. They available from Amazon as e-books or paperbacks as well as from Hurley Books.